Squats are one of the most fundamental exercises performed in the gym. They are excellent as a total body exercise used to strengthen the glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back and core. Squats build overall strength that make functional movements such as getting out of a chair, going up and down stairs and picking up your kids a lot easier. Just like most exercises, when squats are performed correctly, the benefits are great. When squats are performed incorrectly, the body, especially knees and lower back, can be subject to injury.
To avoid a setback, here is how to perform the perfect squat:
1. Stand with your feet about hip width apart. If you are less flexible or prefer a wider stance, you can turn your toes out to open up your hips a little more. Hands can be positioned straight out in front of you or in the prayer position in front of your chest.
2. Before you squat, next take a deep breath and hold it while simultaneously squeezing your core. Doing so will keep your core in a tight position, which helps keep proper form, keep your lower back safe and make the movement easier. If you have high blood pressure or are pregnant, consult a doctor before holding your breath during any exercise.
3. After you’ve taken a deep breath and are bracing your core, you can begin to sit your hips back and down. Driving the hips back will keep the sheer force off the knees. If your knees are jutting forward, you’re not sitting back enough.
4. Continue to squat back and down until your hips are right below the knee crease, or below 90 degrees. If you don’t have the flexibility to do so, you can try opening up your stance slightly to allow your hips to drop further.
5. As you come out of the bottom of your squat, continue to hold your breath and brace your core, releasing at the top of the movement. Pause at the top, take another deep breath in and set up for the next rep.
Once you master squatting with your body weight, you can add weight. The easiest way to add weight is to hold a dumbbell like a goblet, cupping the weight vertically and holding close to your chest. Happy squatting.
Jason DeHenzel has trained some of New York’s most prestigious clients, including high-profile lawyers, advertising executives, movie producers and musicians. Sophie DeHenzel is a Pn1-certified nutritionist and former downhill ski racer. The pair founded DeHenzel Training Systems, a 2015 Home-Based Business of the Year from the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. DeHenzel Training Systems develops customized fitness plans for clients of different abilities, experience and commitment. Find out more at dtsnova.com.